Tucked away in the back office of Olmsted Medical Group on Main Street in Wanamingo, I met a very special lady, Heidi Smith. She is a licensed professional clinical counselor, specializing in Christian based grief counseling, and her business name is Abounding Hope. She opened her Wanamingo location last April, and has been working here ever since.
Heidi has been married to her husband Dirk for 36 years, and they have 3 children and 3 grandchildren, and have lived in the Pine Island area for the past 18 years. Originally a city girl, she says she loves being in a rural setting now, and loves walking her dogs, water-skiing and being with friends.
Heidi grew up in Iowa knowing she wanted to be able to help people in crisis. This became very apparent when her brother in law died in his sleep at age 37, leaving behind a wife and 5 children. As she worked through the grief of losing a loved one, she began to think about grief counseling to help people in crisis deal with the pain of loss.
As she was working in both inner-city and rural church youth groups, she started hearing kids talking about struggles with suicide, self-harm and depression, and wanted to equip herself to come alongside youth and help them out of the dark places they seemed to be going into. She started taking classes at Liberty University in Virginia on line and completed her counseling degree in 2014.
After graduating she did an internship Gerard Residential Treatment Center in Austin, MN, which is a residential home for kids aged 6 to 18 who are in transition due to various scenarios and behavioral issues. She had previously completed a practicum at Seasons Hospice in the Center for Grief Education and Support, and after her time at Gerard, interviewed to be the director of the Season's Grief Center, at the encouragement of her mentor and supervisor. She accepted the position and worked there for over 6 years.
At that point, Heidi was ready to open her own practice and chose Wanamingo as her place to be. She now works in Wanamingo on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and also sees clients on-line and in a Rochester office. You can check out information about Heidi on her website, www.Aboundinghopecc.com, or online at Psychology Today for Christian based grief counseling. Heidi was quick to point out that grief counseling is not all she does in her work. Depression and anxiety have risen over the past few years, and she feels like she wants to provide a listening ear for her clients to air their issues in a safe place and work through positive next steps. Judgement has no place in Heidi's practice, and even though she believes in a Christian approach, she welcomes all with open arms in her space.
When she's not working in her office in Wanamingo, you will find her volunteering at Next Chapter Ministries in Rochester. This program supports people who have been incarcerated in starting a new life, and helps families impacted by crime find hope for the future. It is a non denominational ministry and currently has a men's home, along with programs for women and children, and they have plans to expand their services in the near future.
In building her practice, she is offering an initial 30 minute consultation at no cost, to meet new prospective clients and see if they both feel like Abounding Hope is the right fit. And when the fit doesn't seem quite right, Heidi can refer clients to a number of other qualified counsellors in the area. Her undergraduate degree was in communication, so she is well equipped to deal with many issues that surface in her work.
When I asked her why she chose counseling as a career, she said, " I went into counseling not because I think I can fix things, but because people need to know that they are being heard. Their stories need to be heard, and they need to know that they are not alone. I am on their journey with them, and I offer them hope and support through knowing Jesus and His love."
If you or someone you know is struggling with what life has thrown at them, you can contact Heidi at (507) 626-2410. I think you'll be glad you did!